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VOL. 132 | NO. 170 | Monday, August 28, 2017

Memphis Hustle to Debut Nov. 4, Have 23 Home Games

D. J. Stephens, Adonis Thomas Drafted by Grizzlies’ minor league team

By Don Wade

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The Grizzlies’ minor league team, the Memphis Hustle, will begin play in the NBA G League on Nov. 4 and have 23 home games.

The season starts with a weekend back-to-back, Nov. 4 and 5 to tip-off action at Landers Center in Southaven. The Hustle will make its franchise debut on Saturday, Nov. 4 at 7 p.m. against the Sioux Falls Skyforce, before returning to action the following night against the Salt Lake City Stars at 5 p.m.

The team will play 23 home games at Landers Center, 24 road games and two games at NBA G League Showcase 2018 in Mississauga, Ontario, from Jan. 10-13. On Friday, Nov. 24 at 7 p.m., the Hustle will take the floor at FedExForum against the Salt Lake City Stars. All regular season games will be streamed via Facebook Live with a full broadcast schedule to be announced at a later date.

The NBA G League recently conducted its expansion draft and the Hustle selected the rights to 11 players, including former University of Memphis standout D.J. Stephens. (Daily News File/Lance Murphey)

Recently, the NBA G League conducted its expansion draft and the Hustle selected the rights to 11 players. Among them: former University of Memphis players D.J. Stephens and Adonis Thomas, former Grizzly Jamaal Franklin, and former BYU star Jimmer Fredette.

Fans can purchase season tickets starting at $8 per game. Half-season and six-game flex packs will be available, too. For more information call 901-888-HOOP and press 6. Tickets will be available for purchase starting this fall at all Ticketmaster locations, Ticketmaster.com, the Landers Center Box Office, and online at memphishustle.com. You can follow the team on Twitter and Instagram (@MemphisHustle) or on Facebook.

Is Paxton Lynch a Bust?

John Elway wanted Paxton Lynch. John Elway desperately wanted Lynch to win the starting job at the start of his second season in Denver. But the Broncos will trot out Trevor Siemian as the starter not because he has wowed them, but because the former University of Memphis star has not shown that he’s ready – or maybe even any more ready than he was as a rookie.

Broncos head coach Vance Joseph called starting Siemian a “permanent” decision, but if he wobbles Lynch figures to get another shot during the season.

Question: Is there any reason to believe he’ll be able to take advantage of it? The Denver Post’s Mark Kiszla detailed a play from a preseason game that is quite troubling: wideout Demaryius Thomas was running a third-down crossing route in front of Lynch and he never saw Thomas. Instead, Lynch threw the ball toward a tight end who was double-covered.

Such in-the-moment blindness is a fatal affliction for an NFL quarterback. Ultimately, vision and feel and decision-making matter more than arm strength and size.

Wrote Kiszla, who by the way praised the pick of Lynch at the time: “Lynch now gets lumped alongside Brady Quinn and Johnny Manziel on a short, ugly list of recent first-round hot prospects who weren’t ready to start at quarterback by the outset of Year Two. Even Tim Tebow, for crying out loud, won the starting job with the Broncos before the end of October during his second pro season …”

Less is More for Cards’ Kolten Wong

St. Louis Cardinals second baseman Kolten Wong recently explained to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch why his batting average and line-drive rate are up and his home runs are down. He decided to let others seek home runs while he tries to become a pest at the top of the order.

Going into the weekend’s games at Busch Stadium against Tampa Bay, the former Memphis Redbird was hitting .315 and his on-base percentage was pushing .400. Meanwhile, he has hit just two home runs this season when big-leaguers are collectively on pace to amass the highest season total in history.

The P-D reported Wong’s line drive rate of 27.6 percent has surpassed his fly-ball rate (24.1 percent). Also, he has a launch angle of 8.5 degrees – down from 11.4 degrees two seasons ago. Fewer fly balls means fewer easy outs. More line drives means more base hits. Wong has 24 doubles, just four off his career-high of 28 two years ago.

“If the home runs come, awesome,” said Wong, who hit 12 homers in 2014 and 11 in 2015. “If they don’t, I really don’t care as long as I’m getting on.”

Said Cardinals manager Mike Matheny: “He’s maintaining the strike zone. He’s got a consistent set up and pass to the ball every time. That’s where you create consistency.”

Tigers’ Football Season Parking Sold Out

Season parking for the upcoming University of Memphis football season is sold out. This includes parking in Tiger Lane, plus Gold, Silver, Red, Blue, Tan and Pink lots.

On game days, parking in the Purple Lot will still be available for $20 per vehicle and is accessible through access 10 off of East Parkway or access 11 off of Southern Avenue. Purple Lot game-day parking will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis until all spots are sold. As always, fans are encouraged to arrive at the stadium early to help alleviate potential traffic congestion.

“This is the first time in program history that season parking passes have sold out,” said U of M athletic director Tom Bowen.

Memphis opens the season on Thursday, Aug. 31, against the University of Louisiana-Monroe at 8 p.m. This game is the annual Kroger game and $5 tickets are available at participating Memphis-area Kroger stores. $1 from each ticket sold goes to the Mid-South Food Bank in support of alleviating hunger.

Season tickets start at $115 for Tiger Scholarship 901 Club members or $130 for the general public. A three-game package is also available, starting at $60, and includes any three home games. For season, single-game or three-game package tickets, call 901-678-2331 or visit GoTigersGoTix.com.

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